PASADENA, Calif.--Several sources are reporting that an exit deal between Conan O'Brien and NBC has been hammered out and will be announced Saturday.
Bill Carter of the New York Times, who usually has this stuff first, lays it all out here. Basically O'Brien gets at least $30 million to be okay with having The Tonight Show yanked away from him earlier than his NBC contract allowed. O'Brien also gets NBC's blessing to go work elsewhere as early as September.
Jay Leno gets The Tonight Show, which stays at 11:35. Jimmy Fallon stays put.
O'Brien is scheduled to do one more week of shows before a hiatus leading into the Olympics. It is now felt next Friday's show, as agreed upon in the deal, will be O'Brien's last five Tonight shows.
The deal comes in the nick of time as things get ugly in late night. The piling on from other late night talk show hosts has finally brought out the scrapper in Leno. "Even David Letterman's taking shots at me," said Leno on Friday's show. "What a surprise. usually he just takes shots at interns."
Leno has been hammered all week by Letterman, who keeps calling him Jay "Big Jaw" Leno. Jimmy Kimmel savaged Leno Thursday night as a hostile "10 at 10" guest. When Leno asked Kimmel about the best prank he ever pulled, Kimmel blurted, "I told a guy that 'five years from now, I'm going to give you my show.' And then when the five years came, I gave it to him. And then I took it back almost instantly. I think he works at Fox or something now."